When conducting a workshop, if there is one topic guaranteed to snap a room to attention, it is the issue of parenting. No one, it seems is comfortable with their ability to parent and everyone feels pretty vulnerable about it. It is a shame that we don’t teach parenting in schools because you’re certain to need it more than algebra or chemistry.
Raising children challenges us in our most intimate and vulnerable places. A child simply asks us to open our hearts (as does a good relationship). That frightens many people, and yet they have this child that they asked for, that they love, that they must respond to. . . and at times they would also like to strangle. And that’s the inherent conflict that drives most parents up the wall.
First of all, know that you are not alone. I don’t know a single parent who doesn’t feel the same way. It doesn’t make you defective, it only makes you human.
A parent is totally responsible for a child, and that is an extraordinary responsibility and a very large emotional burden (more about that in a minute). “Flaws” in the child’s behavior reflect directly back on your self-worth and parenting skills. We work so hard to mask our own fears and anxieties and then send the kid to school for all the world to see.
Yes, there are parenting skills you can learn – they are mostly relational skills like communicating, being honest and understanding the limitations of a child to cope, but the biggest single parenting technique you will ever learn is, “DO EVERYTHING WITH LOVE.”
No matter what else you do, if you keep that admonition before you, you won’t go too far afield (it’s good advice for relationships too). I am asked what to do in this situation or that situation, and after dealing with the particulars I always add, “Do what’s in your heart.”
But there is a major complication in being in your heart that most child care books don’t talk about, and that has to do with the child’s ability to push your buttons. You see, it’s a child’s job. Think about it for a moment.
God has only a couple of good ways to get you to look at your issues. Your partner is one, your family is another and sometimes we get tangled up with friends, but nothing and I mean nothing, can get to you like your child can.
When your child “pushes your buttons,” he or she is offering you an opportunity to look at something that is not finished in your own development. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reacting! The child needs to learn his or her lessons and you get to look at your stuff. It’s a twofer! Deal with the kid’s behavior for sure, but don’t neglect the opportunity to look into your reaction, too.
The truth is, you don’t really want to deal with these issues (otherwise you would have done so already), and the kid has put them right in your face. And there isn’t anything can do about it! This is the reason that most parents hold resentments toward their children.
You don’t let the resentments surface because you know they are misplaced, but when pushed into a corner . . . And because we don’t want to deal with these issues, we deflect them away through resentment (it’s what you probably do with your partner, too).
What got set off in you was from your childhood – a lingering insecurity, a belief – that you have yet to resolve. And this is The Universe’s way of calling your attention to it. If your child is having a hard time, you’re not enough as a parent, you’re not good enough, smart enough, lovable – etc., etc., etc. And as an imperfect being, how can you keep from passing those attitudes on to your kids?
The answer, as I said before, is to love your children. If you show them real love, then what you do won’t matter so much because they will know that they are loved. Note that I said “show.” We all love our kids, but some of us are really bad at openly giving that love.
Kids will give you a surprising amount of leeway. And if you cannot love them openly, that’s The Universe knocking at your door, asking you to look at, “Why not?” In addition to your own healing, dealing with your issues is important in another way because when you know the origin of your feelings, you’re less likely to dump your stuff all over a child who may need guidance, but probably doesn’t deserve that.
As a child grows, he/she must create independence from you, and yet the child will still be (at times) dependent upon you for emotional support. It’s a minefield! – from one point of view. But, from another perspective, it is the most potent opportunity you will ever have to look at your own fears and anxieties. What a remarkable gift!
A very wise dog trainer once told me, “It’s never the dog.” Yes, dogs, like children, can become imprinted with dysfunctional behavior, but they merely reflect the environment they live in. Heal yourself and your kids will do OK.
copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016